Reasons to Avoid Playing at Illegal Online Casinos in Canada

The fact that Canada is home to the world’s largest number of gambling machines and gamblers proves the Canadian love for gambling. But this has resulted in an increase in the number of gambling addicts and problem gamblers in the country. 

To protect residents from gambling-related harm, the Canadian government has amended its gambling laws and granted the Canadian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) the power to identify, investigate, and block unlicensed online casinos that accept Canadian players. 

Gambling Laws in Canada – An Overview

Canada has criminalized online casinos and restricted some forms of gambling. For example, Canadians can bet on sports events, but the law prevents them from placing in-play bets. Also, playing lottery games online is legal, but not playing instant-win games like casino games and scratchcards. 

There is nothing in Canada’s law books, which prevents residents from wagering real money at online casinos. But Canada is very protective of its residents. Recent amendments to its major gambling law, the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, gives the ACMA the power to listen to players’ complaints, investigate rogue online casinos, and direct Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block them. 

We advise you to stay away from unlicensed online casinos because they are not safe. Instead, playing lottery games at online gambling sites licensed in Canada or wagering real money at Canada’s licensed land-based casinos or placing bets on sports events at online sportsbooks licensed in Canada is much safer.  

Canada’s Major Online Gambling Law – The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 

Interactive gambling act 2001Canada’s most important gambling law is the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, which underwent major amendments in 2017. 

This law has the following points to make

  • Individuals or companies cannot offer online casino gaming services to Canadians. 

  • Offering online casino games such as blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, and slots along with games of chance as well as skill is illegal in Canada.  

  • The law applies to foreign as well as domestic online gambling companies, irrespective of whether they belong to foreign or Canadian companies. 

  • The purpose of the law is to reduce gambling harm among Canadian residents. 

  • As the law intends to protect Canadian players from gambling harm, it targets only operators of online gambling businesses and not players. 

  • The law requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to implement the interactive gambling industry code to control unlicensed offshore online casinos accepting Canadian players. This code empowers ISPs to apply approved filters and prevent Canadians from accessing unlicensed offshore online casinos. 

  • The law also intends to raise awareness of the dangers associated with playing at illegal online casinos. As the government of Canada hasn’t licensed offshore online casinos, you cannot expect it to come to your rescue if they cheat you.  

  • The law encourages you to alert the ACMA if you notice any operator illegally accepting wagers from Canadian players or advertising their services and products in the country. 

Online Gambling in Canada – The Present Scenario 

Canada has legalized several forms of online gambling, including online sports betting and online lottery games. Also, Canadian law-enforcement agencies do not penalize residents who wager real money at offshore online casinos. 

The country regulates all gambling activities at two levels

  • State, territorial, or regional level 

  • Federal level 

The following table presents information about the various authorities and regulatory bodies that supervise, regulate, and license gambling activities in Canada. 

Northern Territory 

Licensing Commission

South Canada

Independent Gambling Authority 


Tasmanian Gaming Commission

Western Canada

Department of Racing, Gaming, and Liquor

Canadian Capital Territory (ACT)

ACT Gambling and Racing Commission

New South Wales (NSW)

Office of Liquor, Gaming, and Racing


Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation


Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation

Tips to Find Licensed Online Casinos in Canada 

Canada has a few licensed online casinos. These are online casinos that have received the license to operate in a particular region, state, or territory. Only residents of that state, territory, or region can sign up and play at these online casinos. 

Canada doesn’t license operators of online casinos at the federal level. The country has not yet created the regulatory framework required to license, authorize, and regulate online casinos. So you won’t find any online casino licensed by the government of Canada

However, several offshore online casinos accept Canadian players and allow them to deposit and wager in CAD. Most of them have received licenses in well-known gambling jurisdictions like Gibraltar, Alderney, Malta, and others. But many are unlicensed rogue casinos. 

You won’t get into trouble with the law if you sign up at any offshore online casino. However, playing at online casinos that haven’t received a license from your country of residence is fraught with several risks.

Dangers of Playing at Unlicensed Online Casinos 

The Internet is loaded with online casinos that accept Canadian players. Many of them are based on Canadian themes such as the Canadian national flag and Canadian wildlife. These online casinos claim to be “Canadian,” but they are international online casinos licensed and regulated in remote jurisdictions.

The following are the dangers of playing at such online casinos: 

  • Offshore online casinos do not offer the same quality of consumer protection available at online casinos licensed in Canada. 

  • Unlicensed online casinos offer prohibited games like poker, scratchcards, slots, blackjack, and roulette. 

  • Customer service is poor and unresponsive at unlicensed online casinos.

  • They withhold winnings or delay payouts without reason. 

  • They close down without a warning and disappear without a trace, making it impossible for you to get back your deposits. 

  • Unlicensed online casinos continue to withdraw money from your bank account even after you stop using their services. 

  • If the Canadian government blocks these sites, you will no longer be able to access your gaming account and retrieve your money. 

How to Protect Yourself from Unlicensed Online Casinos 

Have you registered at an offshore online casino? Are you finding it difficult to withdraw your winnings or deposits

You can take one of the following actions to protect yourself: 

  • Hire a lawyer to represent you. 

  • Complain to the online casino’s licensing authority or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) centre. 

  • Take the help of the Canadian Competition and Consumer Commission. 

How Canada Protects Residents from Unlicensed Online Casinos 

In 2017, Canada amended its Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 and empowered the Canadian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to block unlicensed online casinos. The ACMA has used its powers to block several unlicensed online casinos and continues to do so.

Paul Fletcher - Minister for Communications

The Canadian government took this step because residents wager over $400 million at offshore online casinos every year. Most of these online casinos do not pay out winnings. 

Nerida O’Loughlin, the chair of ACMA, says that players who are cheated by rogue casinos never get the justice they deserve. She said that 65 unlicensed online casinos stopped operating in Canada after the ACMA launched its crackdown. 

Paul Fletcher, the Canadian Communication Minister, said that the country lost $100 million in tax revenue every year because of offshore online casinos. 

Emu Casino and Fair Go Casino, both online casinos licensed in Curacao, were the first to be blocked by the ACMA. These online casinos used Canadian wildlife themes to attract Canadian players. 

The ACMA now has the power to issue warnings and seek civil penalty orders to protect Canadian players from offshore online casinos. However, the ACMA cannot take any legal action against illegal online casinos because they are based in offshore jurisdictions. Moreover, many of these online casinos do not even reveal details of their ownership and license.

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